The Eucharist Makes Us the Church
On this the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, I was pleased to hear that the theme is “The Eucharist Makes Us the Church.”
The statement is true for the whole of the Catholic Church as much as it is true for the diocese, the “local Church.” This theme, especially on such an anniversary, is an invitation to consider who we are, both as a people before God and as a family in community with one another. As such, I hope to reflect and to share with you some of these treasures of the Eucharistic feast, that we all may glory in the works of the Lord.
The Church as Body of Christ at Mass
The Church is the Body of Christ, made up of members who have been baptized and therefore have been incorporated into His Body and who have continued their life of grace through the sacraments. Therefore, when the Church gathers each week for the Sunday celebration of the Mass, the intent is that the whole and entire Body of Christ is present to worship God. This is one of the reasons why the Church, as a good mother, has given as a rule that we should be at Mass each Sunday and Holy Day and why the Sacrament of Penance is typically offered on Saturdays.
Eucharist in the Sacrifice of the Mass
Principally speaking, the sacrament of the Eucharist is inseparable from the Sacrifice of the Mass. The Church exists for the Mass and it is manifested in the Mass. It is here where we encounter the bread and wine forever becoming the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This conversion (transubstantiation) of both the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is fundamental to our beliefs as Catholics. These two elements separated should remind us of the blood of Christ separated and spilled from His holy body on the cross for our redemption.
In a similar way, we too are invited, especially through communion, to participate in this sacrifice and to be united with Him. In receiving this sacrament, we in one sense, assent to be transformed, to be united more and more fully to Christ Himself. “Pray brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.”
The Body of Christ in The Local Church
The local Church, under the bishop, stands as one large family gathered before God. It is easy to see both the distinction and diversity of a large family. However, it is equally important to remember our identity and connectedness. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
The Mass helps us accomplish that. In the Mass, we are gathered together with the Universal Church and participate in the Heavenly Liturgy with Jesus as our High Priest. In another sense, we are equally gathered as the local Church, the Catholic Church of Fort Worth. At Mass, we remember this reality when the priest prays “...together with your servant Francis our Pope and Michael our Bishop.”
In the Eucharist, the Body of Christ is made present and offered in the sacrifice of the Mass. Following this, we receive this same Body of Christ in Holy Communion. Thus, from this offering (of the sacrifice) and this reception (of communion) of the Body of Christ, the Church is created. Together as a Church and as a family we stand with our bishop. Together as a family, we express unity with the communion of saints and with each other which is made possible only through our unity with Christ and His perfect Sacrifice.